My husband, Paul, and I dreamed about becoming full-time RVers for several years. In October, we finally took the plunge and set off on a five-and-a-half-month long adventure from our home in Canada to the States. Our first hurdle: crossing the Canadian border into the United States.
That first day of our much-anticipated new life kicked off exactly as we had hoped. The border crossing wasn’t as big of a deal as we thought it might be. Here’s what happened on departure day.
Our Starting Point for Crossing the Canadian Border: Gravenhurst, Ontario
“Good morning, Suzie,” whispers Paul as he stirs me from sleep with a sweet kiss. “Welcome to the first day of the rest of our lives.”
“Oh my God, it’s here!” I jump out of bed and dive into my travel clothes. Making lunch, I realize that after crossing the Canadian border we won’t see our home country again for five and half months.
It’s 7 AM on Saturday, October 29, 2022. It’s dark, and the chilly air prickles my skin. Frosted silvery shrubs and icy-looking lakes reaffirms what we’ll be leaving behind—YES! Before heading to the storage yard where our Thor Windsport (with convertible-in-tow) awaits, we hit the McDonald’s drive-thru for a quick coffee and egg McMuffin.
Bill’s familiar face greets us as he reaches across with our food and tells Paul, “Thanks, Mayor, for your years in office. The town’ll sure miss ya.”
“Thanks, Bill, this is our virgin RV trip to the US,” jokes Paul. “We’ll be crossing at the Canadian border at Thousand Islands.”
“Happy retirement, and have a great winter in the US.”
The RV Cockpit is Locked and Loaded with Trip Gadgets
Paul’s diligent research over the last year provides a host of resources and devices to simplify our trip. I jokingly call him Inspector Gadget, because it seems every other day another gizmo arrives at our door. I’m OK with this because it gives him the confidence to organize our itinerary, and if he’s happy, I’m happy—the reverse of happy wife, happy life.
Because our rig’s speedometer is in mph, Paul has a GPS speedometer in km/h sitting on the dash. Also at his fingertips are a Sirius Radio with a peel-and-stick holder plus a holder for his smart phone. In another blog I’ll outline the many and varied finds of Inspector Gadget — stay tuned for my article, Helpful Thingamajigs and Doohickies.
Why We Travel with RV LIFE Trip Wizard and RV LIFE Pro GPS
An essential asset in our toolkit is RV LIFE Trip Wizard. This app helps to plan our RV itinerary and RV LIFE Pro ( included for all RV LIFE Trip Wizard subscribers) uses GPS to provide the rest of the information.
For example, Paul used RV LIFE Trip Wizard to calculate how far to travel in a day. Then he plotted all the stops to get there. A cool feature is how the app utilizes our RV’s configurations ensuring the route is safe for our rig. RV LIFE Pro automatically provided GPS guidance for each segment of our trip.
Several different trips can be organized here, too. As Paul’s co-pilot, it’s my job to switch to the next identified stop enroute. Without sounding too promotional, RV LIFE is where peace of mind has a new address.
Our New Full-time RV Life Begins
The first day of life’s next great adventure begins. We slap each other a high-five and pull out to Highway 11 south. It seems surreal — it’s really happening! Friends and family email and text their good wishes. I’m sure you know the standard cliches: safe travels, bon voyage, happy trails to you.
But what’s not cliché is the bulge in my throat I can’t quite gulp down or the flutter in my chest that causes me to pause and ponder what might not have been. I feel blessed and grateful beyond all measure.
It doesn’t take Paul long to get his sea-legs or should I say, RV-legs. On the Road Again plays on Sirius Radio, so we sing along with Willie as we head southeast toward Kingston. The pink rockfaces of Muskoka granite transition to rolling farmland and then shelves of grey limestone along Highway 401.
Both Canadians and Americans are worried about inflated gas prices. We’re happy snowbirds heading to the US as gas prices are significantly less than in Canada, even with the exchange. For example, last evening we paid $1.71.9 per litre. After calculating litres verses gallons and including the US exchange we are saving approximately 30 cents a litre.
These Docs Made Crossing the Canadian Border in an RV Easier
Just east of Gananoque we stop at an Onroute highway pit stop to prepare for crossing the Canadian border into the United States. We’ve heard horror stories about border-crossings-gone-wrong, so we’re a little nervous.
It’s normal for a border guard to enter the RV for a brief look about and we’re aware we could be asked to pull over and exit the RV for a second more thorough inspection.
The must-have documents for an easy Canada-USA border crossing
My Inspector Gadget’s RVing and border crossing research is organized in a binder titled, Kelly’s Invade USA, including information on entering the USA via Thousand Islands. At the ready we have:
- Passports (dah of course)
- RV and car registrations
- Printed immunization status (just in case)
- And list of food items onboard.
RV crossing with Canada customs was relatively easy. Why? Because we made of list of border crossing documents. Our must-have documents for crossing the Canadian border are based on information from these websites:
What Happened at the Thousand Islands Border Crossing?
Thousand Islands is a group of more than 1800 islands in the St. Lawrence River, straddling the border of the U.S. and Canada. We’re in awe of the pretty islets and expansive bridging system connecting five islands to the two countries. A toll booth takes $12.75 CAN ($9.46 US).
There is no designated RV lane at the Canada-US border, but signage is easy to follow. We queue in the lane marked cars / buses. Thirty-five minutes later, with sunglasses and radio off, blinds up, and a smile pasted on our faces, it’s our turn at the wicket.
We hand the opened passports with our faces in view to a friendly border agent. His main questions were about whether or not we were traveling with fruits, vegetables, eggs, firewood, fireworks, or cannabis. And although we’re allowed to bring 1 litre of alcohol into the US, why would we? It’s much cheaper in the US!
What About Taking Pets Across the Canadian Border?
As for pets, crossing the Canada border are allowed to do so, but must have had a rabies shot. We had the vaccination certificate handy for ours.
That was all there was to our Canada-US border crossing. Once we were cleared, we took a collective sigh of relief. WHEW!!!
“Have a great trip,” he says.
WHOO HOO … on the road again.